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Environmental Architecture hero


Alternative forms of co-existence

Key details

  • 240 credits
  • 15 month programme
  • Full-time study

School or Centre

Career opportunities

  • Environmental Architecture graduates are expected to go on to work in a range of fields, from further academic study to roles in environmentalist NGOs, urban planning agencies and design agencies including architecture, landscape architecture and environmental design.

Explore the future of landscapes, environments and ecosystems.

Environmental Architecture focuses on the co-dependence of life forms and earth systems as well as the co-existence of alternative concepts of landscapes, environments and territories as they are expressed by different societies.

If the planet has a design problem, what do the terms ‘design’ or ‘architecture’ mean when they are applied to phenomena as varied as oceans and atmospheres, or to farmlands and deserts? The intensity of environmental change calls for new forms of knowledge production based in propositional thinking, especially design-based methods.

We offer an intensive series of seminars, lectures, workshops and symposia that cultivate new and experimental approaches to the discipline. You’ll have access to a rich culture of radical and experimental interdisciplinary work at the RCA, and the chance to establish a network of colleagues and mentors in London.

Catch the replays from our March 2021 Virtual Day.



The School of Architecture is based at our historic Kensington site.

View all facilities

Our studios are the heart of day-to-day activity for the School. Studios are purpose-designed for inspiration and interaction between students of different design disciplines. Studio workspace is provided for each student. In addition, you have access to wood, metal, plastic and resin workshop facilities, as well as contemporary digital fabrication equipment and a suite of bookable project and making spaces.

  • Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Students in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Activity in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working together in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Working on a piece in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

  • Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

    Reviewing work in the School of Architecture Studios (photo: Richard Haughton)

More details on what you'll study.

Find out what you'll cover in this programme.

What you'll cover

Live Project-based studio work forms the core of activity for the first three terms of the MA Environmental Architecture programme, with complementary technical, historical, theoretical and case study seminars occurring in parallel. Group work is encouraged and considered an important introduction to the inherently collaborative process of architecture and environmental design. These may take place online or as part of a blended mode of delivery, according to government guideline and College policy.

In the fourth and final term, you will complete an Independent Research Project as an individual submission, which will offer the opportunity to work on a detailed design proposal or thesis with support and feedback from urban and environmental architecture practitioners.

Workshops focus on new spatial epistemologies, especially systems of representation, visualisation and calculation. History theory subjects examine alternative environmental models throughout history, focusing on the way social and political ambitions have become spatialised. Shared modules at programme, School and College level encourage different scales of collaboration with related disciplines and across the College.

In The Studio, Kaiwen Yu, 2019

The weekly design studio is the core of the MA programme. Work in the studio is organised individually and in small student groups (2–4 students), and teaching is conducted during weekly group tutorials and pin-up presentations. Work produced in the studio is assessed in mid-term, end-of-term presentations and end-of-term submissions. The submissions follow distinct stages of environmental architecture defined in practice: ‘Brief’ (T1), ‘Strategy’ (T2), ‘Concept Design’ (T3).

The design studios introduce the pedagogy of the programme, provide you with design skills and research methodologies to analyse case studies, while assisting you with the formulation of research and design proposals. The teaching model combines written and design components, as both are considered essential practices in the generation of a disciplinary ecology. Currently, the programme features two design studios, each exploring architecture’s potential contribution to communities and organisations engaged in territorial disputes and resource extraction: 


Lithium Triangle Research Studio

The Orang-orang and the Hutan Studio

Borneo Field Trip, 2019, Photo: Christina Leigh Geros

Environmental questions are rarely far from contemporary public debate.

Climate change, global warming, global forest fires, and extreme weather events, mass species extinction, the pollution of our air, seas, land and rivers, not to forget the pollution of our own bodies and food supplies are all daily headline news in print and televisual media.

How should we think about these questions within a school of architecture?

There are three seminars organised across the first three terms of the programme. The seminars require constant engagement and involvement by students in course material selection and preparation, collective discussions and oral presentations.

Past guests: Susan Schuppli, Pedro Neves Marques, Adrian Lahoud, Lindsay Bremner, Nabil Ahmed, Nikos Katsikis, Shela Sheik, RIVAL, Zannah Mae Matson, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Phineas Harper, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Prof. Aran Chadwick 

This unit enables students to explore how architects communicate ideas from both a contemporary and historical perspective. This encompasses a range of media that spans disciplines, ideologies and methods.

Students will use both analogue and digital technologies to understand better how a designer creates, interrogates and manipulates spatial environments.

This investigation will take place in a critical context, which explores how images are used to manufacture socio-political ideologies and negotiate public identities.

Nabil Ahmed

We have an innovative format of partnership with a selected group of professional practices and organisations. In the beginning of your Independent Research Project (IRP), you’ll be paired with a mentor  according to your research interests and work on your proposal for six weeks on-site within the mentor’s installations. In doing so we hope professional practices and organisations might have a foundational role in the development of the student’s IRP. 

Composed of a unique set of practices at the forefront of contemporary environmental design and thinking, our mentors aim to reflect the diversity of perspectives and possibilities within our programme.

Mentors change every year depending on student interests and mentor availability.

Recent practice mentors include:


Atelier 10

Atmos Lab



Hassell Studio

Ian Ritchie Architects


Rival Strategy



Yves Daccord

Vineet Diwadkar

Matilda Cassani


Dr. Samaneh Moafi

Marc DuBois

Claudia Montero - Fundación Desierto de Atacama

Skye Moret

Pippa Howard - Fauna & Flora International

Jess Myers

Dr. Maria Guevara, MD - Médecins Sans Frontières

Nashin Mahtani 

Future Firm

Konstantina Koulouri - Dark Matter Labs

Dane Carlson - REALMS

01_2019 TastingWindow_CG.jpg

Curation, installation, and exhibition are important methods of communication that opens new dialogues about environmental conflicts; while helping creative the threads of research and design travel and form new collaborations. Throughout the programme students have opportunities to show their work within and outside of the RCA.

All studio-based MA students follow a weekly schedule of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS), a College-wide initiative that provides you with the intellectual framework to build a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

CHS delivers exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring lectures by experts within the programme and high-profile visiting lecturers. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the theoretical background and aspects of your chosen discipline through a tutored dissertation process, as well as receiving individual tutorial support from our team of expert tutors.

View more CHS information


What you need to know before you apply

Candidates are selected entirely on merit and applications are welcomed from all over the world. The selection process will consider creativity, imagination and innovation as demonstrated in your portfolio, as well as your potential to benefit from the programme and to achieve high MA standards overall.

You’ll likely be students of architecture with a 3+2-year Bachelor and Master’s degree, or master-equivalent 5-year diploma preferably in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Urbanism, Urban Design or other related design discipline looking to acquire expertise in large scale, environmental and ecological design projects.

We’ll consider other backgrounds, such as fine arts, social sciences, geography, urban studies, planning or economics, if your prior work is of exceptional merit and you’re able to demonstrate their ability to work alongside and contribute to multidisciplinary teams. Evidence of your intellectual and professional curiosity and a readiness to engage in a rigorous and demanding period of study is essential.

What's needed from you

Your portfolio is a showcase of your work as an artist or designer and can be made up of images, videos or writing examples. Your portfolio helps us to better understand your application and allows you to show evidence of your ability and motivation to undertake a given programme.

Generally, we’re looking for you to demonstrate your:

  • Creativity, imagination and innovation
  • Ability to articulate the intentions of the work
  • Intellectual engagement in areas relevant to the work
  • Technical skills appropriate to the work
  • Potential to benefit from the programme

Environmental Architecture is an interdisciplinary programme that aims at exploring the contribution of architecture towards addressing our current environmental and climate crises. We would like you to prioritise projects or other pieces of work that showcase:

  • Ability and interest in addressing environmental and climate issues through design
  • A range of technical design skills (these might take the form of drawing, model making, 3D models, film, photography, writing, painting, performance, exhibition design or others)
  • A range of research methods (this could include academic papers, fieldwork, interviews, documentary practices, environmental analysis or other)
  • Experience in group work and collaborative practices
  • Experience of working with non-academic partners (if possible)

All submitted materials should state if they were done individually or in collaboration, and clearly explain the research methods and design processes that led to the final outcome.

Visit our application portal to view more portfolio requirements

If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need the equivalent of an IELTS Academic score of 6.5 with a 6.0 in the Test of Written English (TWE). Students achieving a grade of at least 6.0, with a grade of 5.5 in the Test of Written English, may be eligible to take the College’s English for Academic Purposes course to enable them to reach the required standard.

You are exempt from this requirement if you have received a 2.1 degree or above from a university in a majority English-speaking nation within the last two years.

If you need a Student Visa to study at the RCA, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

Find out more about English-language requirements

Fees & funding

For this programme

Fees for new students

Fees for September 2021 entry on this programme are outlined below. From 2021 onward, EU students are classified as Overseas for tuition fee purposes.

£14,850 total cost*
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
£17,425 total cost*
Overseas and EU
£34,850 total cost*


New entrants to the College for MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place. This will be offset against the tuition fees for the first year of study.

Overseas and EU

* Total cost is based on the assumption that the programme is completed in the timeframe stated in the programme details. Additional study time may incur additional charges.



Scholarships are awarded for a specific programme and entry point and cannot be deferred without consent from the academic Programme and scholarships panel.

More information

External funding

There are many funding sources, with some students securing scholarships and others saving money from working. It is impossible to list all the potential funding sources; however, the following information could be useful.


Tuition fees are due on the first day of the academic year and students are sent an invoice prior to beginning their studies. Payments can be made in advance, on registration or in two instalments.

Start your application

RCA students at work (photo: Richard Haughton)

Change your life and be here in 2021

The Royal College of Art welcomes applicants from all over the world.

Before you begin

Make sure you've read and understood the entrance requirements
More information about entrance requirements
Check you have all the information you need to apply.
Read our application process guide
Visit our applications portal to get started

Ask a question

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more or have any questions.

Email us at
[email protected]
RCA Kensington cafe